Interviews, Reviews, and Media


Lauro Vasquez's interview  "Birthing Genoveva: a Conversation with Barbara Brinson Curiel, on the Letras Latinas blog raises questions about women and creativity.

Daniel Olivas's profile for La Bloga: Spotlight on Barbara Brinson Curiel.

Interview by Nate Worrell for The Competitive Writer on winning the Levine Prize.


 Video of 2013 poetry reading at Humboldt State University.


Diego Baez's review for Booklist.

Review by Emmy PĂ©rez, University of Texas, Pan American:
"I finally read "Mexican Jenny: and Other Poems" by Barbara Curiel, fellow CantoMundista (2010-2012). Her book was selected by Cornelius Eady for the 2012 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry. I love this book! Moving, wise, at times humorous, and beautiful.

When I read the last poem "Little Red" of the first section of the book I had a visceral reaction to the whole first section that moved me the way that nothing except excellent art can.

In the second section of the book, the setting for the long poem "Mexican Jenny" seemed to put me, at first, on the set of one of my favorite films as a young adult McCabe & Mrs. Miller. Curiel's narrative (a mixture of fact and fiction made into the emotional truth of this kind of poetry), however, is different, more realistic, deeper, resonates: "It was more important to bring back / a prostitute who'd killed her pimp, / a wife who'd killed her husband." We know that the pimp was her husband. My thoughts immediately turned to the women prison inmates I once taught and the complex reasons for their incarceration. I also think in broader terms such as the difficulties faced by many women immigrants and women of all ages.

I chuckled a lot in the third section of the book (especially the poem "Color Snapshots," but it's the kind of humor that comes with an acknowledgement of "shared" experiences that lasts well beyond closing the book.

The last poem of the book I want to type out completely, but here's a bit:
"We were so young / our womanhood / glowed green and as hard / as the corn growing all around us." And a little more: "In the afterglow / we were bright stalks / tender as hands / in darkness." In reading this final image, I am reminded of the long title poem's "Men's quick fingers are dangerous / as lit dynamite."

But in the end, it's the friendship of women looking back on young adulthood in the poem, and in other poems the friendship of daughters/children, memories of abuela blessing the pots, mom making magic menudo… all of these things seem to bring order to an otherwise disordered world where young working class fathers work "packing and unpacking the sides / of beef" to provide for families and some are the "reluctant husband(s)" of teen moms, or working hard to make money for things that they don't necessarily believe in: "sea whaling" for "Del Monte's cat food" or "sperm whale oil / for nuclear reactors."

This is all I have time to write (like a superrough first draft of a book review), but I wanted to share it anyhow. This book is on my reading list for spring 2015 Chican@ Poetry & Poetics grad course and other poetry courses, including courses with Women & Gender Studies as a focus.